The Apps for Communities Challenge is an initiative of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation (“Knight Foundation”) and the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”).  The goals of the Challenge are to: make local public information more personalized, usable, and accessible for all Americans; promote broadband adoption, particularly among Americans who are less likely to be regular Internet users (including low-income, rural, residents on Tribal lands, seniors, people with disabilities, and the low digital/English literacy communities); and create better links between Americans and services provided by local, state, Tribal and federal governments.  The Challenge is intended to bring together providers of public data, developers, and traditionally underserved populations through a national contest for innovative uses of local data, and to provide recognition to contestants who develop software applications (apps) that provide easy access to relevant content with an emphasis on apps that use hyper-local and other public data from cities, counties, townships, Tribes and states.

The FCC seeks to promote broadband deployment and adoption for all Americans -- regardless of geography, race, economic status, disability, residence on Tribal land, or degree of digital or English literacy -- by providing easy access to relevant content.  New applications can pull new users online, as well as increase the value of broadband connections for existing users.  Together, increased broadband adoption and deployment can be indispensable for unleashing innovation and investment, spurring job creation and economic growth, and ensuring our country's global competitiveness.

Consistent with Knight Foundation’s mission to foster informed and engaged communities and the FCC’s goal to encourage broadband adoption and deployment, the FCC and Knight Foundation are co-sponsoring this Challenge, offering $100,000 in prizes.  The Knight Foundation is the Challenge Administrator and has contracted with Clay Johnson and Fission Strategy to conduct this Challenge. While the Challenge is locally focused, the FCC and Knight Foundation want the apps created to be usable across jurisdictions throughout theUnited States.

Any elements of the Challenge described in the “Details” section of this Challenge posting on Challenge.gov are wholly incorporated as part of the Rules of this Challenge.

1. Eligibility

The Challenge is open only to: (1) Citizens or permanent residents of the fifty (50) United States, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, and American Samoa, who are at least thirteen (13) years old at the time of entry; and (2) private entities that are incorporated in and maintain a primary place of business in the United States, including the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, and American Samoa. An individual may participate on behalf of more than one team, corporation, or nonprofit organization.  Employees of the FCC, Knight Foundation and its contractors, Clay Johnson and Fission Strategy, and members of their immediate households, are not eligible.  Federal entities and federal employees acting within the scope of their employment are not eligible.  Participation in this Challenge constitutes the Contestant's full and unconditional agreement to these official rules. All decisions by the FCC are final and binding with regard to all matters related to the Challenge.  Eligibility for a prize award is contingent upon fulfilling all requirements set forth herein.

2. Challenge Submission Period

The Challenge Submission Period begins on April 14, 2011 and ends at 11:59 EDT October 3, 2011 (the "Challenge Submission Period").  The Challenge Administrator’s computer, set to Eastern Daylight Time (EDT), is the official time-keeping device for this Challenge.  Entries may be submitted beginning at 12:00 AM on April 14, 2011 and must be received by October 3, 2011 11:59 PM EDT.  Winners will be announced on a date and time to be determined.

3. How to Enter and Submission Requirements

Registration is free.  All entries must comply with the following submission requirements: 

  • Contestants must build an app that is web, mobile, or text/SMS-based.
  • Apps must be made available under an OSI Approved open source license.
  • All data sources used must be publically available.
  • Contestants must add a link to the fully functioning app or demonstration and source code. 
  • Contestants may submit more than one app.
  • Applicants must host their own app during the judging period and ensure that judges have easy access to the app.
  • Submissions must be software applications, be it for the web, a personal computer, a mobile handheld device, console, or any platform broadly accessible to the open Internet. The app should be accompanied by a short (one page or less) description of how it works and what it is intended to accomplish.
  • Any non-personally identifiable data gathered by a software app must be made available free of charge to the public throughout the Challenge and for a period of one year after the announcement of winners.
  • Submissions must be made available free of charge to the public throughout the Challenge and for a period of one year after the announcement of winners.
  • If the app is not accessible by the Administrator and Judges for review purposes via the web with a URL or mobile app store, a link to a video of the working app may be submitted.  In such case, the Administrator has the right to request access to the Submission in person or via any reasonable manner to verify any criteria about the software app.
  • A Submission may be disqualified if it does not function as set forth in the description.
  • Once a Submission is made, the Contestant can edit the Submission using the functionalities provided by the Challenge.gov platform until the end date of the competition.
  • Contestants may withdraw their Submissions from the Challenge upon notice to the Administrator prior to the announcement of winners.  A Contestant who withdraws an entry may not resubmit it.

How to submit your entry: 

The Challenge Submission Period begins on April 14, 2011 and ends at 11:59 EDT October 3, 2011 (the "Challenge Submission Period").  The Challenge Administrator’s computer, set to Eastern Daylight Time (EDT), is the official time-keeping device for this Challenge.   Entries may be submitted beginning at 12:00 AM on April 14, 2011 and must be received by October 3, 2011 11:59 PM EDT.  Winners will be announced on a date and time to be determined.

Participants shall apply via the Challenge.gov portal (click the “Submissions” tab above) and add a link to the fully functioning app or demonstration and your source code.  To qualify, you need to build an application -- web, mobile, or text/SMS based -- that uses one of the OSI Approved open source licenses.  Any data source used must be publically available.  You will need to host your own application during the judging process and ensure that our panel of judges has easy access to your application (or, in the case of a mobile platform that the judges may not have access to, a demonstration of the working product). 

Refer to the rules (click on Rules tab above) for important information regarding eligibility, prizes, and other requirements.

4.  Criteria for Judging the Challenge.

Submitted apps will be judged based on the following criteria:

  • Local Impact:  Does the app provide easy access to relevant content with an emphasis on hyper-local data from cities, counties, townships, Tribes, and states?  Does the app enable better links between Americans and services provided by government? 
  • User experience and presentation:  Is the app simple, well-designed, and easy to use for the intended audience, e.g., low-income, rural, seniors, people with disabilities, the low digital/ English literacy communities?
  • Accessibility:  Is the app usable by and useful to people with disabilities?
  • Sustainability:  How likely is this app to survive post contest? Is this a viable app? Is the idea promising enough to warrant sustained development and attention?
  • Focus on traditionally disconnected populations:  Is the app likely to promote broadband communications adoption, particularly among Americans who may not be regular Internet users (including low-income, rural, seniors, people with disabilities and the low digital/English literacy communities)?

5. Judges and Winner Selection

The FCC and the Knight Foundation will announce judges to select the winners of the Challenge.  A judge may not have personal or financial interests in, or be an employee, officer, director, or agent of any entity that is a registered participant in a Challenge or have a familial or financial relationship with an individual who is a registered participant.  Judges may be individuals from outside the FCC, the Knight Foundation or its contractors, including from the private sector. The judging panel will be finalized before the end of the submission period.  The judges will evaluate the Submissions on the judging criteria identified above in order to select winners in each category.  Judges have the right to withdraw without advance notice in the event of circumstances beyond their control.

Each judge will score every app on a scale of 1-5 (five being the highest) in all categories.  The average score in each category will be computed, and the average scores will be combined to compute a total score for every app.  The app with the highest total score will win the Grand Prize.  The seven apps with the next highest total scores will receive the additional prizes as described.

Prizes:

$30,000 -   Grand Prize
$20,000 -   Second Prize
$10,000 -   Third Prize
$1,000 x5 - Runners Up

Bonus prizes may be given in addition to other awards that the contestant may win.  Each judge may nominate an app for a bonus prize.  The judges will vote on the nominees, and the nominee receiving the highest number of votes will receive the bonus prize in that category.  For example, The Grand Prize winner may receive a $10,000 bonus for the best designed application, or a runner up could win all of the bonus prizes and end up with a larger prize than the Grand Prize for the Challenge.

Bonus Prizes:

$10,000 Bonus - Best Design and Visualization
$10,000 Bonus - Most Replicable Application -- the app that can be replicated across the most local communities.
$5,000 Bonus - App with the best use of SMS
$5,000 Bonus - App that best impacts people with limited digital proficiency
$5,000 Bonus - App that best impacts people with limited English literacy

6. Verification of Potential Winners

Winners must continue to comply with all terms and conditions of these rules, and noncompliance may result in disqualification.  Winners will be notified by email, telephone, or mail after the date of the judging. Winners, or the winner’s parent/guardian if a winner is under 18 years of age, will be required to sign and return to the FCC, within ten (10) days of the date notice is sent, a Statement of Eligibility and  Release (except where prohibited by law) in order to claim any prize. In the event that a winner of the Challenge is disqualified for any reason, the Administrator may award the applicable prize to an alternate winner who had the highest score among remaining eligible entries.

Except where prohibited by law, participation in the Challenge constitutes the winners' consent to use of winner's name, likeness, photograph, voice, opinions, and/or hometown and state for promotional purposes in any media, worldwide, without further payment or consideration.

7. Entry Conditions, Indemnification, and Release

By entering, each Contestant agrees to release the FCC, Knight Foundation and its contractors Clay Johnson and Fission Strategy, (the "Released Parties") from and against any and all claims, expenses, and liability, including but not limited to negligence and damages of any kind to persons and property, invasion of privacy, defamation, slander, libel, violation of right of publicity, property damage, or death or personal injury arising out of or relating to a Contestant’s entry, creation or submission of an entry, participation in the Challenge, acceptance, use or misuse of prize or recognition (including any travel or activity related thereto) and/or the broadcast, transmission, performance or use of an entry.  Each Contestant also agrees to indemnify, defend and hold harmless the Released Parties against any and all claims, expenses, fees and liabilities, including those forms of liabilities referred to above, arising out of or relating to a Contestant's entry, creation or submission of an entry, participation in the Challenge, acceptance, use or misuse of prize or recognition (including any travel or activity related thereto) and/or the broadcast, transmission, performance or use of an entry.  

8. General Conditions

All decisions by the FCC are final and binding with regard to all matters related to the Challenge.  The FCC reserves the right to cancel, suspend and/or modify the Challenge, or any part of it, if any fraud, technical failures or any other factor beyond its reasonable control impairs the integrity or proper functioning of the Challenge. The FCC reserves the right in its sole discretion to disqualify any contestant it finds to be tampering with the entry process or the operation of the Challenge or to be acting in violation of these rules or any other promotion or in an unsportsmanlike or disruptive manner. Any attempt by any person to deliberately undermine the legitimate operation of the Challenge may be a violation of criminal and civil law.  Failure to enforce any term of these rules shall not constitute a waiver of that provision.  The Challenge is subject to all applicable federal laws and regulations and is void where prohibited by law.  

9. Disclaimer -- Limitations of Liability

The FCC, Knight Foundation and its contractors are not responsible for: (1) any incorrect or inaccurate information, whether caused by Contestants, printing errors, or by any of the equipment or programming associated with or utilized in the Challenge; (2) technical failures of any kind, including, but not limited to malfunctions, interruptions, or disconnections in phone lines or network hardware or software; (3) unauthorized human intervention in any part of the entry process or the Challenge; (4) technical or human error which may occur in the administration of the Challenge or the processing of entries; or (5) any injury or damage to persons or property which may be caused, directly or indirectly, in whole or in part, from Contestant's participation in the Challenge or receipt,  use or misuse of any prize. If for any reason a Contestant's entry is confirmed to have been erroneously deleted, lost, or otherwise destroyed or corrupted, Contestant's sole remedy is another entry in the Challenge.  The award of a prize in this Challenge does not constitute an endorsement of a specific product by the Knight Foundation or FCC.

10. Copyright/Intellectual Property

Original Work:  Each Contestant warrants that he or she is the sole author and owner of the Submission, and that the Submission is wholly original with the Contestant (or is an improved version of an existing app that the submitter has sufficient rights to use – including the substantial improvement of existing open-source apps), that it does not infringe any copyright or any other rights of any third party of which Contestant is aware, and that it is free of malware. 

Submission Rights:  Each Contestant grants to the FCC and Knight Foundation an irrevocable, paid-up, royalty-free non-exclusive worldwide license to use, copy for use, distribute, perform publically, and display publically, for the purpose of the Challenge, for a period of one year after the announcement of winners. This license includes permission to post or link to the Submission from the FCC and/or Knight Foundation websites and Challenge.gov making it available for use by the public. 

11. Privacy

If you choose to provide personal information by registering or filling out the submission form through the website, that information may be used to respond to you in matters regarding your submission and for promoting the Challenge.  Information is not collected for commercial marketing.

12.  Choice of Law and Forum

These terms shall be governed by federal law to the extent applicable.      

13.  Complete Agreement and Severability

These terms represent the complete agreement among the FCC, the Knight Foundation and its contractors, and the Contestant.  No representations by any person, whether oral or written, shall have any binding effect.  To the extent any of these terms are found invalid or unenforceable, the remaining terms shall continue in effect to the extent feasible.